Jagan Mohan Reddy remains baffled after Andhra Pradesh voters force a reality check

Jagan Mohan Reddy was so confident of a victory that he chaired a meeting upon his return from London to discuss his swearing-in ceremony.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Jun 08, 2024 | 7:25 PMUpdatedJun 08, 2024 | 7:25 PM

The crowds that thronged YS Jagan Mohan Reddy's rallies did not translate into votes. Pictured, Jagan during his Siddham yatra in Ananthpur. (Supplied)

YSRCP leader YS Jagan Mohan Reddy was confident of a second term as chief minister when he launched the Memantha Siddham (we are all ready) yatra across Andhra Pradesh’s 21 districts in March.

Unknown to him, the people were also siddham — or ready — for a change.

Massive crowds that thronged the poll campaign meetings further fuelled Jagan’s confidence. They erupted in applause as he spoke, and the chosen star campaigners stood bathed in glory.

After the polling on 13 May, Jagan prepared for his second term, as his party projected encouraging numbers. He believed the various welfare schemes he had rolled out at a cost of ₹2.67 lakh crore would help him back.

He did not take into account that the welfare schemes had cost the state’s development dearly.

However, not all in the YSRCP were as confident as Jagan. Party general secretary Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy said the election was like an examination for school children.

“We took the examination and we hope to get through. “Don’t bet your hard-earned money on who will win and who will lose in this election,” he said.

Related: Naidu to be sworn in as Andhra Pradesh CM on 12 June

Confidence unlimited

Jagan, however, would have nothing of it. Nor did he take political strategist Prashant Kishor’s prediction seriously.

Speaking to a Telugu television channel a day before polling, Kishor predicted a massive defeat for the YSRCP. He felt the ruling party would win only 51 of 175 seats in the state Legislative Assembly.

“The YSRCP will create history this time. A landslide victory is in the offing. The results on 4 June will make the entire country sit up and take notice of Andhra Pradesh,” Jagan retorted.

Jagan was oblivious that Kishor, too, was way off the mark. He realised it only when the results were announced.

Even as the Electronic Voting Machines, holding the secret the voters had registered, remained in strongrooms, Jagan took a break from Andhra and the election’s oppressive heat.

Before leaving to London, he discussed with confidants the venue of his swearing-in ceremony. Visakhapatnam or Vijayawada, he wanted to know.

The discussion pointed to his confidence. He remained clueless over what to expect even during his talk with the I-PAC team on 16 May, three days after polling.

On his return, Jagan chaired a meeting to discuss the arrangements for his swearing-in ceremony, including food and guest list.

A day before elections in Andhra Pradesh, on 12 May, political strategist Prashant Kishor had predicted a massive defeat for YSRCP. He insisted that the party would only win 51 seats in the elections while speaking to a Telugu TV channel.

Reacting sharply, Jagan said: “The YSRCP will create history this time. A landslide victory is in the making. The results on 4 June will make the entire country sit upright and take a look at AP,” he had said.

Related: King in Amaravati, kingmaker in Delhi

Eyes on Naidu

Jagan was right in saying that the country would take note of Andhra on 4 June. However, it was for a different reason.

The TDP, led by his bête noire N Chandrababu Naidu, steamed ahead along with its allies BJP and Jana Sena Party when the votes were counted.

For Naidu, it was poetic justice. He had faced a similar humiliation in 2019. He became the focus after the BJP lost 63 seats and fell short of 272 seats, the majority mark. It catapulted Naidu into national prominence along with Nitish Kumar of Bihar.

As the results poured in, it demolished Jagan’s dream of coming to power for the second time. The YSRCP could win only 11 of the 175 seats. He seemed to have been taken aback, like everyone else, and the TDP-JSP-BJP alliance kept marching forward.

Jagan was shell-shocked. He spoke to the media with a forced smile. He vowed to rise again and become the voice of the voiceless. His, assertion, however, lacked conviction.

The YSRCP leader said he could say that he had been “deceived or had been meted out injustice. But he would not say it as he lacked evidence.

“God knows what has happened,” he justified. “I cannot say anything or do anything about it,” he indirectly suggested foul play. He was careful not to be explicit.

He, however, said that the TDP-led alliance could not erode his vote bank beyond 40 percent. It seemed one important aspect that made him wonder how the YSRCP could lose an election so badly even while retaining a 40 percent vote share.

Related: YSRCP loses presence in 8 out of 13 Andhra districts

Future imperfect

Jagan seemed to be anticipating trouble ahead. “I am ready for any difficulty that might come my way,” he said, implying that TDP might create trouble for him.

“I know what pain is. These setbacks will not deter me,” he said.

Jagan looked upset over the people’s ‘ungratefulness’. He had almost drained the entire exchequer for their benefit.

“The people were thankful to me when I handed them cash as part of various welfare schemes. Where did this love go on the day of the election?” he wondered aloud.

Jagan said that he did not foresee the result, and admitted that it surprised him. “Crore of people benefited from my initiatives. I did a lot of good to them, unparalleled in the state’s history. The election result came as a big surprise to me,” he said.

The YSRCP supremo also hinted at a ‘possible double-cross’ by the BJP: “The alliance which I fought against has very big leaders. There is BJP, Chandrababu Naidu, and Pawan Kalyan,” he said.

(Edited by Majnu Babu).